At 3 Generations, we have always aimed to bring world-wide attention to the environmental and cultural crisis of the degradation of Native American lands through our feature film: A Different American Dream, a series of videos and a robust engagement campaign focused on supporting grassroots programs.
As many know, in the Dakotas, fracking and pipelines have decimated once pristine landscapes, causing toxic damage, destroying ancestral burial grounds and now threatening drinking water. The company behind the pipeline project was able to purchased land in September 2016. However, this land had legally been reserved for the Lakota under the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie treaties.
In 2016, hundreds of federal, state, local, and private police advanced on the protests camps along Highway 1806 to evict the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies. Wearing body armor, carrying batons and assault rifles and they were supported by military humvees, snipers, armored personnel carriers, and a surveillance helicopter. Recently a policeman reported that he gave “300+ people hypothermia by blasting them with water cannons, nearly blew off a woman’s arm with a concussion grenade, blinded a woman with a tear gas canister, and shot a medic in the head with a rubber bullet”, while “a pipeline company paid him to do it”. This, and other assaults, were done to Native Americans protesting peacefully about oil companies stealing their land and harming the environment in order to build a pipeline.
We were distressed to learn that on May 30, Michael “Little Feather” Giron was sentenced to thirty-six months in federal prison, becoming the first person to face serious prison time for his role in the struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Giron was one of thousands who gathered in camps on and near the Standing Rock Reservation in 2016 and 2017 to oppose the pipeline.
Our executive director and founder, Jane Wells, visited Standing Rock 3 times between 2014 and 2017 to record testimony and bear witness to the protests against the pipeline on behalf of 3 Generations. In addition she made multiple trips to North Dakota to film A Different American Dream. These visits only reinforced our respect for the beauty of this landscape and our determination to support Native Americans in their efforts to honor their ancestral lands and mother earth herself.
As Americans, freedom of speech is one of our most, if not the most, cherished and important rights enshrined to us in the First Amendment of the Constitution. If we, as Americans, cannot protest without fear of violence and lawful retribution, what else in the Constitution can be ignored? With these vile environmental abuses only increasing, 3 Generations remains as committed as ever to stand with the tribes in the Dakotas to fight for their land and culture. We are in the process of making our next moves to help Native youth in their struggle to preserve their lands and their patrimony.